Exec Quarterly Reports: Third time’s the charm

Exec Quarterly Reports: Third time’s the charm

What your exec have been up to

Well, well, well, here we go again. It was a hectic quarter, filled with zoom calls, jabs, puppies, elections, earthquakes, and bar closures, but your Exec have a lot to show for it. Well, most of them do, but Jack’s just excited to get out of here. The big theme this quarter was postponement, as pretty much every single member had some sort of planned event that got postponed due to lockdown. Everyone had to adapt to the second iteration of Dunedin Level 2, and everyone handled it differently. Read on for a hastily-written summary of a bureaucratically-mandated report of your minority-elected student government’s recent activity.

 

President - Michaela Waite-Harvey

Michaela gave 29 interviews this quarter. That’s more interviews than lectures I attended. She averaged 44.875 hours/week, 10% above what is expected of her, so she is literally giving 110%. Michaela stressed the impact that lockdown had this semester, something that every single person on the Exec cited as a source of delay in their plans. But Michaela remained busy over lockdown, just like everyone else, and advocated for better student support. Most notably, though, she helped make the decision to close Starters Bar. It was a “hard but necessary” choice, and one that she did not seem happy about. She also met with Mayor Aaron Hawkins and MP David Clark, as well as the key shareholders in the Good One party registrar. Michaela also wrote the OUSA Submission on the review of the University of Otago Sexual Misconduct Policy. Also this quarter, Michaela sat on a myriad of committees and wrote about two handfuls of further letters, involving everything from the Afghan Students Association, to the Women in Leadership Breakfast, to attending the student mental health hui.

 

Tumuaki (Te Roopū Māori) - Karamea Pēwhairangi

The standout moment of Karamea’s quarter was the organization of a pop-up vaccination clinic on 30 and 31 of August. Her work with Melissa to make this happen made the vaccine available to any student and any member of the winder community. This included this disabled community, as Karamea said she consulted with the president of the Disabled Students Association to ensure that all who wanted a vaccine would be able to do so safely. Karamea said that she was “extremely proud of the outcomes of this kaupapa,” and so are we. In addition to the clinic, Karamea completed all of her mandated work and took several trips around the country to meet other representatives. She listed an extremely detailed, day-by-day breakdown of her work this quarter.

 

President (Pacific Island Students’ Association) - Melissa Lama

Just to give you the basic vibe of Melissa’s third quarter, she listed the events she’s been involved in using an alphabetical list and it went all the way down to the letter S. That is the nineteenth letter of the alphabet. She gave interviews to nine different media outlets. “This quarter by far has been my busiest,” she said, and you’ve gotta hope that’s true. She also did some self-reflecting. “Where I see improvements in my leadership, is in my ability to engage with students who are not involved in student associations. I hope this quarter I conduct other means of engagement for this particular cohort of students who want to be heard, but require leaders like myself to do better in what that looks like,” she wrote. Good on ya Melissa.

Not only is she going above and beyond in terms of her role on UOPISA, she is also a co-chair on the National Tongan Covid Response, where she can advocate for her community. She’s also leading the Pacific Youth Covid Engagement Strategy. Honestly, Melissa is just doing a ridiculous amount, and it’s probably not going to slow down when she is OUSA President next year.

 

Administrative Vice-President - Emily Coyle

“Another quarter down, I look forward to how Critic summarises this one for me,” said Emily. Emily did us a huge solid and summarized her entire quarter in two paragraphs, making writing this section a breeze. Unfortunately for us, these paragraphs were the very last paragraphs in her seven page report, which meant we read through every single bureaucratic detail she outlined before arriving at her summary. That being said, here’s what she got up to, in her own words:

“I volunteered at Te Kāika Pop-Up Vaccination Centre I participated in a Sustainability video. I met with students or responded to their emails. I attended a Community Stakeholder meeting facilitated by the Proctor and also met with property managers. I attended the Queer Space opening, wrote a column for Critic, was on Radio One, continued work on the Parents’ Room, and across the board coordinated, organized, and did lots of admin. I also made sure to oil all of my joints and ensure that my functionality as an industrial-strength stapler was not impeded in any way.” Thank goodness, we were worried she might rust.

Emily also attended a Ministry of Education hui in Wellington designed to elevate the “student voice”, but “was disheartened when it emerged that the organisers had not included Māori student voice in any capacity.” She concluded by saying that “the Tumuaki of TRM and I set a meeting with the Vice Chancellor to affirm that OUSA and TRM as parallel bodies and partners in student representation. While this feels obvious to the Executive members and many students, the University does not demonstrate recognition of this status.”

 

Finance and Strategy - Josh Meikle

In a relatable admission, Josh said that “this quarter has been a lot fuller on reflection than I was expecting.” Me too, buddy. As he approaches the home stretch for this year, his goals are “finalising the budget, capital project timelines, handover and Drop for Good.” He also voiced his faith in the 2022 Finance and Strategy Officer, Emily Fau-Goodwin, saying that she was “very well suited for this position”. Josh also reported that he attended the opening event of the  Otago Disabled Students’ Association, which he described as “a well-organized and enjoyable evening.” he was also sad to report that his “numbers of hours” spent organizing a national tournament for the New Zealand debating community has been rendered moot “because of the lockdowns.” Sorry mate.

 

Welfare & Equity - Maya Polaschek

Of the many things Maya has been up to in the third quarter, she “has not been required to assume the powers and duties of the President.” It turns out that in the event that a debilitating incident cripples the President, AVP, Finance and Strategy Officer, and the Academic Rep simultaneously, Maya will instantly be elevated to the Presidency, ‘Designated Survivor’-style. No word as to whether she’s memorised OUSA’s nuclear codes, though.

As well as preparing for the apocalypse, though, Maya has also been working on other things. She has been negotiating with Oi to provide subsidised, sustainable period products for students but “these may be too expensive,” she says. The Mental Health Awareness Week she has been planning will still go ahead, but must now be held mostly online, which she says is “disappointing”. Improvements to the Parents’ and Women’s rooms are currently being investigated as well.

Maya notes in her summary that she “tried to place focus in my own space on a few big things to not face Critic’s ‘burnout’ label once again this quarter!”

 

Residential - Jack Saunders

The first thing Jack listed as a “notable campaign” was getting a second round of cuddle fix sussed for all the colleges pre-lockdown. Can’t fault the man on his priorities. He was also present at the three meetings of the new Sub-warden Committee, and helped make sure they had all their ducks in a line. Jack wanted to specifically thank the SWC “for their collaboration in my advocacy for the retention pay during the recent lockdown,” so, if you’re on that committee, this one’s for you.

Jack also spent this quarter helping at the OPISA/TRM call centre for the vaccine clinic, “which was an awesome initiative to be a part of.” He also worked with Josh to reinstate the Best and Worst Flat Awards, and worked with Andy and Ziggy to mandate employment of Māori and Pasifika subwardens in the colleges. At the end of his seventh (and penultimate) quarterly report, Jack said that “I am now coming to the end of my two years at OUSA,” and that this fantastic quarter “made me appreciate working with such an incredible team (this year in particular) that much more.” Sounds like shade thrown @ 2020 exec, if you ask me.

 

Clubs & Societies - Dushanka Govender

Currently trapped in Auckland due to the lockdown, Dushanka has had to carry out the past few months of her work as Clubs and Socs Officer remotely. Despite the difficulties with distance, she’s managed to run the Blues and Golds events and attended nearly every single meeting so far this quarter. Dushanka has also continued to work away on a Clubs Handbook outlining how meetings and other things work, also ensuring grants for food will be in place for next year. Dushanka also offered condolences on the loss of our beloved Starters Bar (RIP).

 

International - Geraldi Ryan

Geraldi did a number of exciting things this quarter, but we’re most excited about the board game nights. The Otago International Student’s Association had their first board game night this quarter, which received “very positive feedback,” and will now be hosted bi-weekly. An online alternative will be offering Jackbox games, which we’ve also started playing in the office. This is a huge win. Geraldi also helped organize the International Culture Expo and OISA Wellbeing Check, both of which are very valuable and something to be proud of, but neither of which are board games. Geraldi also had a meeting with Bridgehour, a Taiwanese government agency, to talk about supporting students, and with the Otago Korean Students’ Association and Silverline to host a conversation about Covid’s impacts. “Ironically, this

is postponed due to Covid-19 Lockdown.”

 

Political - Mhairi Mackenzie Everitt

This quarter, Mhairi has remained politically active by writing OUSA’s submission on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill and submission on the Inquiry into Supplementary Order Paper 59 on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. These are both ~hot topics~ right now. Mhairi had two acts of political protest postponed due to lockdown. The first was a protest planned with Generation Zero which aimed to push for a better pedestrian environment in the Uni area. The second was a protest outside the All Blacks vs. Springboks test match at the stadium over NZ Rugby’s deal with oil giant INEOS. The match was cancelled, but Greenpeace and Mhairi still think that “clean, green New Zealand” can’t in good faith partner with oil-magnate INEOS.

 

Postgraduate - Sophie Barham

As with most members of the Executive, the Delta outbreak severely hampered Sophie’s ability to run events for postgraduate students. The yearly postgraduate ball has been pushed to November, although Sophie has been able to attend other events. Her plans this quarter to continue to push for postgraduate representation across the University and facilitate better communication between the Uni and students were waylaid slightly by Delta, but Sophie noted progress has still been made with postgraduate students now sitting on committees within all departments and schools in the Health Sciences division.

Sophie has also made sure to check in with Wellington postgraduates following the closure of Otago’s Wellington campus to see if there was anything OUSA could do to assist them. She moved the fortnightly postgrad afternoon teas to a weekly instalment online to provide an opportunity for those students to take a break during a particularly stressful time of year. It looks like postgraduate students have been in good hands this year and hopefully will be for years to come.

 

Academic - Michael Evans

This man loves his job. Seriously. He loves it. In his report, he says on facilitating academic pro forma (think academic bureaucracy) “I just love it! I can’t stop!” However, Michael also wants to cut down on that bureaucracy and make it easier for students to engage in academic minutiae beneath the hood of the University. In his role as Academic Representative, Michael has attended meetings for over 21 different groups such as the Senate and the Humanities Academic Board.

He’s also been the one fighting for our sorely-needed grade bumps over lockdown and expressed his disappointment over the University’s unwillingness to extend that to the whole semester. All of this work took up a significant amount of time, enough that University leadership expressed concern over how much time Michael was investing in his studies. Michael was happy to go on record and admit to the student population that their Academic Rep is also behind on lectures because: “I am a man of the people and I have not been led astray by attending catered meetings in the Clocktower.”

This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2021.
Posted 2:53pm Sunday 26th September 2021 by Fox Meyer, Denzel Chung, and Alex Leckie-Zaharic.